10,344 research outputs found

    Tuning the ionic character of sodium dodecyl sulphate via counter-ion binding: an experimental and computational study

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    Solutions of surfactants exhibit remarkable features, such as a tunable amphiphilic character, which can further be varied for ionic surfactants through variations in their Coulombic interactions. These properties are very useful in many industrial applications such as in extraction, purification, and formulation processes, as detergents, wetting agents, or emulsifiers. Rather unexpectedly, the addition of tetrabutylammonium chloride ([N4,4,4,4]Cl) to solutions of the ionic surfactant of sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS) results in the appearance of a phase transition above the lower critical solution temperature (LCST), a property usually associated with non-ionic surfactants. The aim of this study is to provide a detailed nanoscopic scenario on the interaction between SDS micelles and [N4,4,4,4]Cl moieties to better understand the nature of the LCST cloud point and how to confer it to a given ionic surfactant system. A coarse-grained molecular dynamics (CG-MD) computational framework, under the latest MARTINI 3.0 force field, was developed and validated using available literature data. The impact of [N4,4,4,4]Cl concentration in the phase of SDS micellar aqueous solutions was then characterized and compared using experimental results. Specifically, dynamic light scattering (DLS) measurements and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) profiles were obtained at different [N4,4,4,4]+/[DS]- molar ratios (from 0.0 to 1.0) and compared with the CG-MD results. A good agreement between computer simulations and experimental findings was obtained, reinforcing the suitability of GC-MD to simulate complex phase behaviors. When the [N4,4,4,4]+/[DS]- molar ratio is 0.5, the system yielded clusters of enclosed small [DS]- aggregates. Thus, the CG-MD simulations showed the formation of mixed [DS]- and [N4,4,4,4]+ aggregates with [N4,4,4,4]+ cations acting as a bridge between small [DS]- micelles. The CG-MD simulation framework developed in this work captured the role of [N4,4,4,4]+ in the micellar phase transition whilst improving the results obtained with preceding computer models for which the limitations on capturing SDS and [N4,4,4,4]Cl mixtures in aqueous solutions are also shown in detail.publishe

    Decoding negative affect personality trait from patterns of brain activation to threat stimuli

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    INTRODUCTION: Pattern recognition analysis (PRA) applied to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has been used to decode cognitive processes and identify possible biomarkers for mental illness. In the present study, we investigated whether the positive affect (PA) or negative affect (NA) personality traits could be decoded from patterns of brain activation in response to a human threat using a healthy sample. METHODS: fMRI data from 34 volunteers (15 women) were acquired during a simple motor task while the volunteers viewed a set of threat stimuli that were directed either toward them or away from them and matched neutral pictures. For each participant, contrast images from a General Linear Model (GLM) between the threat versus neutral stimuli defined the spatial patterns used as input to the regression model. We applied a multiple kernel learning (MKL) regression combining information from different brain regions hierarchically in a whole brain model to decode the NA and PA from patterns of brain activation in response to threat stimuli. RESULTS: The MKL model was able to decode NA but not PA from the contrast images between threat stimuli directed away versus neutral with a significance above chance. The correlation and the mean squared error (MSE) between predicted and actual NA were 0.52 (p-value=0.01) and 24.43 (p-value=0.01), respectively. The MKL pattern regression model identified a network with 37 regions that contributed to the predictions. Some of the regions were related to perception (e.g., occipital and temporal regions) while others were related to emotional evaluation (e.g., caudate and prefrontal regions). CONCLUSION: These results suggest that there was an interaction between the individuals' NA and the brain response to the threat stimuli directed away, which enabled the MKL model to decode NA from the brain patterns. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence that PRA can be used to decode a personality trait from patterns of brain activation during emotional contexts

    Comparative Distribution of Relaxin-3 Inputs and Calcium-Binding Protein-Positive Neurons in Rat Amygdala

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    The neural circuits involved in mediating complex behaviors are being rapidly elucidated using various newly developed and powerful anatomical and molecular techniques, providing insights into the neural basis for anxiety disorders, depression, addiction, and dysfunctional social behaviors. Many of these behaviors and associated physiological processes involve the activation of the amygdala in conjunction with cortical and hippocampal circuits. Ascending subcortical projections provide modulatory inputs to the extended amygdala and its related nodes (or ‘hubs’) within these key circuits. One such input arises from the nucleus incertus (NI) in the tegmentum, which sends amino acid- and peptide-containing projections throughout the forebrain. Notably, a distinct population of GABAergic NI neurons expresses the highly-conserved neuropeptide, relaxin-3, and relaxin-3 signaling has been implicated in the modulation of reward/motivation and anxiety- and depressive-like behaviors in rodents via actions within the extended amygdala. Thus, a detailed description of the relaxin-3 innervation of the extended amygdala would provide an anatomical framework for an improved understanding of NI and relaxin-3 modulation of these and other specific amygdala-related functions. Therefore, in this study, we examined the distribution of NI projections and relaxin-3-positive elements (axons/fibers/terminals) within the amygdala, relative to the distribution of neurons expressing the calcium-binding proteins, parvalbumin, calretinin and/or calbindin. Anterograde tracer injections into the NI revealed a topographic distribution of NI efferents within the amygdala that was near identical to the distribution of relaxin-3-immunoreactive fibers. Highest densities of anterogradely-labeled elements and relaxin-3-immunoreactive fibers were observed in the medial nucleus of the amygdala, medial divisions of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BST) and in the endopiriform nucleus. In contrast, sparse anterogradely-labeled and relaxin-3-immunoreactive fibers were observed in other amygdala nuclei, including the lateral, central and basal nuclei and the nucleus accumbens lacked any innervation. Using synaptophysin as a synaptic marker, we identified relaxin-3 positive synaptic terminals in the medial amygdala, BST and endopiriform nucleus of amygdala. Our findings demonstrate the existence of topographic NI and relaxin-3-containing projections to specific nuclei of the extended amygdala, consistent with a likely role for this putative integrative arousal system in the regulation of amygdala-dependent social and emotional behaviors

    Improved methods for detection of ÎČ-galactosidase (lacZ) activity in hard tissue

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    The ß-galactosidase gene (lacZ) of Escherichia coli is widely used as a reporter gene. The expression of lacZ can be detected by enzyme-based histochemical staining using chromogenic substrates such as 5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolyl-ß-D: -galactoside (X-gal). Because the enzymatic activity of lacZ is vulnerable to high temperatures and acid treatment for demineralization, detection of lacZ on paraffinized sections is difficult, especially for hard tissues, which require demineralization before sectioning in paraffin. To circumvent this problem, whole-mount X-gal staining before sectioning is performed. However, detection of lacZ activity in the center of larger portions of hard whole adult tissues is challenging. In this study, focusing on fixation procedures, we determined the conditions conducive to improved detection of lacZ activity in deeper areas of whole tissues. We used an annexin a5 (Anxa5)-lacZ reporter mouse model in which the Anxa5 expression in hard tissue is indicated by lacZ activity. We found that lacZ activity could be detected throughout the periodontal ligament of adult mice when fixed in 100% acetone, whereas it was not detected in the periodontal ligament around the root apex fixed in glutaraldehyde and paraformaldehyde. This staining could not be detected in wild-type mice. Acetone maintains the lacZ activity within 48 h of fixation at both 4°C and at room temperature. In conclusion, acetone is the optimal fixative to improve permeability for staining of lacZ activity in large volumes of adult hard tissues

    The Ring Imaging Cherenkov detector (RICH) of the AMS experiment

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    The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) experiment to be installed on the International Space Station (ISS) will be equipped with a proximity focusing Ring Imaging Cherenkov (RICH) detector for measuring the electric charge and velocity of the charged cosmic particles. A RICH prototype consisting of 96 photomultiplier units, including a piece of the conical reflector, was built and its performance evaluated with ion beam data. Preliminary results of the in-beam tests performed with ion fragments resulting from collisions of a 158 GeV/c/nuc primary beam of Indium ions (CERN SPS) on a Pb target are reported. The collected data included tests to the final front-end electronics and to different aerogel radiators. Cherenkov rings for a large range of charged nuclei and with reflected photons were observed. The data analysis confirms the design goals. Charge separation up to Fe and velocity resolution of the order of 0.1% for singly charged particles are obtained.Comment: 29th International Conference on Cosmic Rays (Pune, India

    Calcium-dependent conformational changes of membrane-bound Ebola fusion peptide drive vesicle fusion

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    The fusogenic subdomain of the Ebola virus envelope glycoprotein is an internal sequence located ca. 20 residues downstream the N‐terminus of the glycoprotein transmembrane subunit. Partitioning of the Ebola fusion peptide into membranes containing phosphatidylinositol in the absence of Ca2+ stabilizes an α‐helical conformation, and gives rise to vesicle efflux but not vesicle fusion. In the presence of millimolar Ca2+ the membrane‐bound peptide adopts an extended ÎČ‐structure, and induces inter‐vesicle mixing of lipids. The peptide conformational polymorphism may be related to the flexibility of the virus-cell intermembrane fusogenic complex

    Reproductive parameters and the use of MOET in transgenic founder goat carrying the human granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (hG-CSF) gene.

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    Abstract: This study aimed to monitor estrous cycle parameters of a human granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (hG-CSF)-transgenic founder female goat and to perform superovulation and embryo recovery (surgical or transcervical method) for further transfer to recipients to quickly obtain offspring. Two experiments were performed using a transgenic (TF) and a non-transgenic (NTF) female. In experiment 1, three estrous cycles were monitored for the following parameters: estrus behavior, progesterone concentration and ovarian activity. In experiment 2, two superovulation/embryo recovery sessions were performed and the recovered embryos were transferred to previously prepared recipients. Data were compared by either t test or Fisher's exact test. The mean interval between natural estrus was 20.7 ± 0.6 and 19.7 ± 0.6 (P > 0.05) days for the TF and NTF, respectively. Progesterone concentrations and ovarian activity were normal and similar between goats. The ovulation rate was similar between TF and NTF (12.0 ± 1.4 vs. 18.0 ± 4.2 CL; P > 0.05). No significant differences in embryo recovery rate (P > 0.05) were observed between the surgical and transcervical methods for TF (69.2 vs. 72.7%) or NTF (100.0 vs. 86.7%). Sixteen embryos from the TF were transferred to recipients, and eight kids were born. Among these kids, the transgene was identified in three (two males and one female), resulting in a transgenesis rate of 37.5%. In summary, the TF is a true founder, since she proved fertility and capacity of transmitting the hG-CSF transgene to progeny, suggesting that the analyzed reproductive traits were not compromised by the presence of the transgene

    The INTEGRAL Galactic bulge monitoring program: the first 1.5 years

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    The Galactic bulge region is a rich host of variable high-energy point sources. Since 2005, February 17 we are monitoring the source activity in this region about every three days with INTEGRAL. Thanks to the large field of view, the imaging capabilities and the sensitivity at hard X-rays, we are able to present for the first time a detailed homogeneous (hard) X-ray view of a sample of 76 sources in the Galactic bulge region. We describe the successful monitoring program and show the first results for a period of about one and a half year. We focus on the short (hour), medium (month) and long-term (year) variability in the 20-60 keV and 60-150 keV bands. When available, we discuss the simultaneous observations in the 3-10 keV and 10-25 keV bands. Per visibility season we detect 32/33 sources in the 20-60 keV band and 8/9 sources in the 60-150 keV band. On average, we find per visibility season one active bright (>~100 mCrab, 20-60 keV) black-hole candidate X-ray transient and three active weaker (<~25 mCrab, 20-60 keV) neutron star X-ray transients. Most of the time a clear anti-correlation can be seen between the soft and hard X-ray emission in some of the X-ray bursters. Hard X-ray flares or outbursts in X-ray bursters, which have a duration of the order of weeks, are accompanied by soft X-ray drops. On the other hand, hard X-ray drops can be accompanied by soft X-ray flares/outbursts. We found a number of new sources, IGR J17354-3255, IGR 17453-2853, IGR J17454-2703, IGR J17456-2901b, IGR J17536-2339, and IGR J17541-2252. We report here on some of the high-energy properties of these sources. The high-energy light curves of all the sources in the field of view, and the high-energy images of the region, are made available through the WWW at http://isdc.unige.ch/Science/BULGE/.Comment: 27 pages, 42 figures, accepted for publication in A&A. Abstract abridged. Tables 3,4,6,7 appear at the end. Images have been compressed and are reduced in quality; original PostScript images can be retrieved from http://isdc.unige.ch/~kuulkers/bulge